Scout House Receives German Pioneers Day 2013 Award
Preston Scout House Band, of Cambridge, and founder and 30 year director Wilf Blum are among three winners of German Pioneers Day 2013 awards. The province of Ontario instituted the award program in 1999 to recognize the achievements of German pioneers in shaping development in the province. The ceremony was held in the rotunda of Kitchener city hall, with guests including Walter Stechel, General Consul Federal Republik of Germany; Ken Seiling, Region of Waterloo chairman; Carl Zehr, Kitchener mayor; Brenda Halloran, city of Waterloo mayor; Karl Kiefer, Cambridge city councillor.
Scout House Band, celebrating the organization’s 75th anniversary this year, was formed in October, 1938 by 1st Preston Boy Scout troop leader Wilf Blum, whose father immigrated to the Waterloo region from Germany in 1866. The other two winners of 2013 awards are Joerg Stieber, who helped the company founded by his father become the world’s leader in the production of off-road amphibious vehicles and Ron Schlegel, who turned a 25-bed nursing home owned by his father into a leading edge network of 12 care campuses offering long term care, retirement living, assisted care, memory care and independent living.
Scout House Band and Wilf Blum were honoured not only for a high level of achievement in drum and bugle corps competitions, winning more than 80 major awards over a 30-year period, but for a longstanding commitment to the community. Pharmacist Wilf Blum was a key member of the town of Preston business community who emphasized the value of dedication, ambition, self-discipline, teamwork, good manners, generosity and support for others all as part of his effort to insure that Band members learned to be productive, responsible citizens.
The tradition of community service and support for local agencies established by the original band is carried on by the alumni band, which supports many local agencies by performing at no cost to special event organizers. The Band has a particularly close relationship with area branches of the Royal Canadian Legion and other veterans’ groups, participating each year in Battle of Atlantic commemorative services, Warriors’ Day parades and tattoos and Remembrance Day ceremonies in November. As a service to young people in the community, Scout House recently established the Preston Scout House Cadets drum and bugle corps for boys and girls from age 13 to 18.
Scout House service to the community includes donations of about $3,000 annually to music programs in the Cambridge area.
Both Preston Scout House Band and Wilf Blum have previously received high-level community awards. Blum was one of the first Canadians inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1985. He was inducted posthumously into the City of Cambridge (made up of the former towns of Preston, Galt and Hespeler) Hall of Fame in 2005. The original Band was named to the Cambridge Hall of Fame in 1997. Five members of the alumni band were the first Canadians inducted as associate members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
A small Scout House ensemble performed during the ceremony at Kitchener City Hall. Drum major Larry Blundell who was a member of the original band and drill writer and instructor for the alumni band since 2002 presented background information to the audience about the Band and Wilf Blum. A Blum family member and former drum major Paul Bauer, who was also a long time member of the original band and the alumni band formally accepted the award plaque.
Waterloo Region’s German heritage extends back more than 200 years to the early 1800s, when Mennonites immigrated to the area from southern Pennsylvania. By 1821, 70 per cent of Ontario’s population was of German origin. Many of the settlers travelled to the area in Conestoga wagons, the distinctive wagons with curved bottoms and covers depicted on Scout House flags.
The unique design with the centre of the wagon lower than both ends prevented freight which could weigh up to eight tons, mostly barrels, from shifting or rolling as the wagon travelled up and down hills. The gentle curve was repeated in the white hood, protruding beyond the front and back of the wagon like a bonnet to protect passengers from sun and rain.
Scout House 75th anniversary year performances have included more than 20 concert, street parades and field shows, including a short concert during the German Pioneer Awards ceremony. The anniversary year schedule includes two Christmas parades in late November. The Band’s annual Christmas dinner and dance takes place in early December, followed by a break from weekly practices until early January.
Music practices are held Sunday afternoons at the Preston Knights of Columbus building, the Band’s winter rehearsal facility, until mid-May when the schedule switches to outdoor field show drill practices on Thursday evenings. The colour guard practices on weekday evenings until the field show practices begin.
For more information about Scout House Band, contact Activities Director Nancy Weiler at telephone (519) 653-3376, email prestonscouthouseband [dot] adm [at] sympatico [dot] ca or visit the Web site at http://www.scouthouseband.com/
Information about Preston Scout House Cadets is available at pshcadets [at] outlook [dot] ca